Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2021-11-03

Northrop Grumman in the UAE

Northrop Grumman has been active in the UAE for over 30 years. The company is a leading supplier to the UAE Armed Forces for a range of capabilities such as advanced long range surveillance radars, low altitude maritime surveillance radars, integrated command and control, weapon systems and avionics.
 
 
By Sakha Pramod

In an exclusive interview with Nation Shield, Natalya Dean, UAE Country Executive, Northrop Grumman, touched on a variety of topics and highlighted how the relationship between her organisation and the UAE has turned vibrant over the years.
Excerpts from the interview:
 
You’ve recently joined Northrop Grumman. Could you tell us a little about your background and your role here in the UAE?
I joined Northrop Grumman in September 2020 as head of the company’s regional business development team and Country Executive for the UAE.  The early part of my career was spent with the United States Army with tours at the Pentagon and The Old Guard, which is America’s oldest active infantry unit. This is also the Army’s official ceremonial unit providing escort to the President of the United States.
I have covered U.S. Army security assistance programmes in 39 European countries, valued at more than US$18B and one of the largest Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programmes valued at US$35B for the Saudi Arabia National Guard.
 
I concluded my 22+ year career in the government with a tour at the U.S. Embassy, Abu Dhabi, where I served as the Director of Security Assistance in the Office of Defense Partnership at the Embassy of the United States in the UAE. I managed and supervised a FMS portfolio by delivering comprehensive advice and strategic guidance to the U.S. Ambassador to the UAE, Senior Defence Officials, the UAE Ministry of Defence General Staff, and military services on capabilities development, acquisition strategies, and technology and information disclosure in support of advancing U.S. interests and interoperability in the combined operational environment.
 
There have been a number of changes in Northrop Grumman over the past year or two.  Kindly explain some of the highlights?
Let’s start with the acquisition of Orbital ATK in 2018, which brought with it a number of complementary leading technologies, capabilities and services. This has further strengthened our position as a leading technology company focused on global security and human discovery.
In 2020, we began operating with a new sector structure that aligned our capabilities in Aeronautics Systems, Defence Systems, Mission Systems and Space Systems.
 
The Aeronautics Systems sector encompasses our world recognised expertise in manned and unmanned air systems as well as airborne battle management systems. Mission Systems sector is a leader in open, cyber-secure, software-defined systems for defense and intelligence applications across multiple domains. Defence Systems draws together a broad spectrum of critical warfighting capabilities and services including advanced missiles, weapons, command and control, and battle management in addition to focusing on all domain solutions from development through sustainment and modernisation. Our Space Systems sector offers launch systems serving national security, civil and commercial customers most notably the Al Yah 3 satellite for the UAE. It is also a leader in the design, development, manufacture and integration of spacecraft systems, sensors, payloads and ground systems to deliver mission capability to national security, science and environmental, communications, on-orbit servicing, and human-rated space systems for earth orbit and deep-space exploration missions.
 
Northrop Grumman is known to have strong decades-long connection with the UAE as a leading provider of capabilities and technologies in defence, security, and communications. How has the relationship grown over the years?
Northrop Grumman has been active in the UAE for over 30 years. The strength of the relationship is built on common interests and values particularly in the field of defence and security cooperation. This requires the two countries’ to seek capabilities that are both state-of-the-art and provide for interoperability. This has led to Northrop Grumman being a leading supplier for a range of capabilities such as advanced long range surveillance radars, low altitude maritime surveillance radars, integrated command and control, weapon systems and avionics.
The profile of the business is a balance between the United States Government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) with the Armed Forces and latterly Tawazun. We are seeking to develop partnerships with EDGE and are also partnered with other UAE companies.


 
Your company is a key subcontractor for F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon. Could you explain the key successes on that programme?
We take pride in being one of the suppliers to Lockheed Martin on the F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon programme.  The platform provides the UAE with cutting-edge capability.
 
The launch of DhabiSat marked another milestone event for the UAE, Khalifa University, as well as for collaboration partners like Northrop Grumman. Are you satisfied with the results of the attitude control research carried out by the satellite?
It was exciting to see the deployment of DhabiSat into its orbital slot from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply spacecraft earlier this year. Whilst it is a little early to pass comment on the results of the attitude control research that will be carried out by the satellite, the achievement thus far should not be understated. The journey that the UAE is undertaking with its space programme is truly inspirational. Our Vice-President and General Manager for Tactical Space Systems, Frank DeMauro acts as a technical advisor and student mentor to the DhabiSat team and is monitoring closely the developments on what we hope will be a significant piece of research.
 
Northrop Grumman had some years ago screened the documentary film Into the Unknown” at schools and universities across the UAE. The documentary looked at the people building NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. Do you plan more such programmes?
The feedback we received on the documentary was outstanding and I strongly recommend giving up 40 minutes of your time to watch the film.
One quote in the film is particularly moving when one Northrop Grumman systems engineer who is working on the design states, “what else would you want to do with your life?”  The impact of such dedication and passion to a career in this field is quite impressive and inspirational.
Whilst we have no immediate plans for further programmes, it’s certainly something we will consider.
 
Your company has been a keen participant in the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), and other such events. How has the experience been?
IDEX is an important exhibition. The volume of exhibitors and the seniority of the official delegations continue to define this as a significant exhibition in our industry.
 
The commitment shown by the UAE in delivering an event where the safety and wellbeing of the participants was of paramount importance should be commended and set the benchmark for events of this nature.
 
Northrop Grumman has expressed support for the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 goals. What steps have been initiated to take the vision forward?
In addition to the details of our company today which we covered here, our commitment to partnership with local industry underpins the government’s desire to diversify its economic activity.
 
What are the other major projects and plans lined up for the UAE?
We have partnership opportunities that we are currently developing with local industry which are still somewhat embryonic in their development. I am hopeful that we will be able to share some of the detail early next year.
 

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